happy children’s book week (and say cheese)!

 Happy Children’s Book Week!

Isn’t this bookmark cool? You can order some from the Children’s Book Council website.

Of course I especially love the cooking references in Pam Munoz Ryan’s poem. Cooking and writing are so much alike. You can spend ages gathering ingredients, measuring, chopping, stirring, mixing, blending, waiting for something to cook or gel, and then when you finally serve it, it’s gobbled up in seconds. Whenever you cook something, you’re never precisely sure how it will taste, or if people will like it. Exactly the same with books.                                

My first picture book, Dumpling Soup, took about five years to write.
 Five years of revisions and rejections, five years of honing the story and wondering whether I’d ever get it right, five years of huge self doubt. After it was finally accepted by Little, Brown, it took another three years before it was released. Of course the book can be read in less than ten minutes. This is why I am a very old person today.

               Cover Image
          Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year
                        (Harcourt, 2007)

Not so old, though, that I don’t remember my favorite childhood nursery rhymes. So, why not celebrate Children’s Book Week with recipes inspired by Mother Goose? This is where it really began for most of us: being held in somebody’s lap, having big hands hold our little ones, clapping and laughing, as we heard the words:

Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can.
Pat it and prick it and mark it with a ‘B’,
And put it in the oven for Baby and me.

A simple rhyme became as pleasurable and memorable as the food we loved. It was passed on to us, as it had been passed down to millions of other children for hundreds of years. This first “song of words” comprised our first poetic meal. I don’t know about you, but food and words have been my passions ever since. 

The origins of “Pat-a-Cake” are unknown, but the earliest traceable publication date is 1698. To start things off, here is the recipe for my favorite cheesecake. This will last a couple of weeks in the fridge (if munchkins don’t get to it first.) Let the celebration begin!CHEESECAKE TO CLAP FOR

cheesecake06.jpg picture by jamesmargaret3rd


2 c vanilla wafer crumbs
6 T butter
2 T sugar
pinch of salt

Mix crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Press into the bottom of 9″ springform pan.


1/2 c lemon juice
6 packages (3 oz each) cream cheese
4 beaten eggs
1 1/2 c sugar

Mix lemon juice, cheese and blend well. Add sugar and eggs. Beat until fluffy. Pour into crumb crust and bake in 350 degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes until almost firm.


1 T grated lemon peel
1 T sugar
1 c sour cream

Mix all three and spread over cake after it has cooled five minutes. Return to oven and bake 5 minutes. Cool, put in refrigerator and chill at least five hours before serving.

                         (Candlewick, 1998)

              Tomorrow:  Pease Porridge Hot!



3 thoughts on “happy children’s book week (and say cheese)!

  1. That cheesecake looks wonderful! Is if full of “story wild”, my favorite ingredient from the Pam Munoz Ryan bookmark?
    I will have to look at my copy of Over the Candlestick to see if it has any story for Pat-a-Cake. I can’t wait for Pease Porridge in the pot, nine days old.


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